Model 1917 Naval Cutlass
and Variants

Cutlasses are among my favorite swords. They all have the appearance of what one envisions as a "buccaneer's" or "pirate's" main weapon; the imagination runs wild.

To the left is a very close copy of the regulation US Model 1917 Naval Cutlass, the last regulation pattern for the US Navy (see below).
This pattern sword replaced the US Model 1861 Naval Cutlass).
The hilt is of a half-cup design, sheet-steel construction. One this example, the metal furniture is nickel-plated, as if for a special unit (such as Honor Guard) or guard, and would have been privately purchased. The grip is of hard-plastic*, black in color, with a knurled pattern on the side panels; grips are held in place by three recessed nut-screw sets. Cup and hilt and held onto blade by a single screw (butt of pommel).
Stainless-steel blade is ~24" in length, curved, and of clip-point style with ~2-1/2 false-edge, ~24-1/2" cutting-edge. Single-fuller - both sides - is ~14" in length.
Markings on the blade ricasso are: right side - U.S.N.; left side - "knight's head" over "WKC" (Weyersberg, Kirschbaum & Company) over "SOLINGEN" over "STAINLESS".
These variants are extremely well-made and functional.

* The term "plastic" is used in a generic sense, and not to be considered verbatim.
'BAKELITE' - a phenolic - was invented in 1909 and quickly used by the military in a variety of applications. Variant phenolics were in wide use throughout the US military from 1935 to about the mid-1950s; at that point, a new process using polystyrene became the material and method of choice, especially for edged-weapon grips. This polystyrene material is in use to this day in numerous military applications, and I am sure there are further improvements - of which I am not aware at this time - but such is the nature of advances in technology. The bottom line is this - phenolics/plastics/polystyrene are all the same for quick identification/reference. It would serve no purpose - to the novice collector - to state "this cutlass has a black BAKELITE phenolic grip, or perhaps a black PLASTIC phenolic/polystyrene grip."
Haven seen early 1917 cutlasses with damaged grips, I would categorize them as having black BAKELITE grips, but that means absolutely nothing to the novice collector when the material appears more like a black HARD-PLASTIC.

Model 1917 Naval Cutlass

The regulation cutlass (above) - a short saber with a cut and thrust blade and a large hand guard - "was issued to enlisted men as a sidearm and maintained in ships armories until the beginning of WWII. The weapons was officially declared obsolete in 1949. The Cutlass was considered an organizational issue item, but was never considered to be a part of the enlisted uniform."
On the regulation patterns, all metal furniture is "blued" similar to firearms; blade is slightly curved and single-edged with a 'clipped' point. The grips are of cross-hatch patterned wood, held in place by three copper rivets, all painted black.

Original style 1917 Naval Cutlass (above), with "blued" blade
Dutch "Klewang" (below) is very similar

An array of 1917 style cutlasses. Note: Only the cutlass on the left is correctly marked USN. It is the correct style.

Cold Steel is now producing a high quality functional replica of the US M1917 Navy Cutlass. It is extremely well made - and very functional - perhaps better than the original; however, the hilt cup is more similar to the Dutch variant.

Cold Steel #88CS 1917 Cutlass

If you need further information, please request such on the Weapons Identification Service page.
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